2 April • Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday)
1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold,
your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.
7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem in a triumphal entry, but Jesus chose to sit on a donkey, not a horse or a carriage. Jesus wanted to show the people that this is how God condescended to become not just a man, but the lowliest of all men. To sit on a donkey was a sign that Jesus was first and foremost the Servant of God.
A servant does the will of His Master and Jesus came to do the will of God. It was God’s will to save the world, not just from poverty, disease or shame but from sin, the pride of rebellion against God which was first displayed by Adam and Eve, the apex of God’s creation. So great was this sin, that nothing less than humility to be displayed by riding on a donkey would suffice. More was to come, the open death on a cross, the symbol of utmost rejection at that time. But first Jesus would show this humility in Jerusalem, the centre of Jewish worship to God. The people of Abraham need to become the people of God through Jesus, not just through Abraham their ancestor who had turned to worship a single God, rather than the multiple gods of his time. Great though that act of faith, Jesus as a descendant of Abraham, was greater than Abraham and Jesus is to be worshipped, not Abraham.
Pride is the greatest sin against God and only humility can destroy pride. Jesus demonstrated this humility in his entry on a donkey with Matthew quoting Isaiah 62:11. We are humble when we appreciate who God is and Jesus never forgot the greatness of God the Father, the second person of the Trinity. Let us never forget how great God is and how great God’s love is for each one of us, and for all God’s creation which God redeemed through His Son Jesus.
Father God, we desire to repent of the pride which rises in us time and time again such that we do not recognise how humble Jesus was on earth. We thank You for the example Jesus set by entering Jerusalem on a donkey, an animal of burden, not of outward strength but of the inner capacity to bear all burdens.
May we seek to be a donkey for Jesus, so that Jesus can ride in triumph through us through the streets we live and work in. May our neighbours and others see Jesus as the true King of the earth, through the victory of Jesus on the cross over all sin.
May we be humble to be a donkey for Jesus, openly as Jesus, who rode through the streets of Jerusalem on a donkey. May we rejoice in being called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord (Isaiah 62:12).
Are there little things in our life where we can put Jesus first and ourselves last? Let us not seek to do great things for God, but little things which make God great. Start with your home, your neighbourhood, your workplace and your relatives. Jesus came to magnify us by riding on a donkey.
Dr Lee Soo Ann
The Bible Society of Singapore